Woman with Map searching for digital business telephone system

What Happened to Digital Business Telephone Systems?

These days if you are hearing or reading about telephone systems you are probably hearing about VOIP, or even more likely, cloud. But what about digital business telephone systems? For decades they were the only game in town. What happened to them and can you still get one?

Well, digital telephone systems had a good run but they are coming to the end of the line. That doesn’t mean you can’t get one though.

What Are Digital Business Telephone Systems?

If you worked in an office 10 years ago, chances were around 90%* you made calls on a digital business telephone system.

Since the 80s, nearly all telephone systems were digital.

Digital telephone systems run off of traditional telephone lines from the telephone company. Each office in a building has its own telephone endpoint which is programmed on the telephone system. Cabling runs through the wall connecting the telephones to the system which is typically located somewhere like a utility closet. A phone could be replaced with another phone of the same model and work exactly the same way as the phone it replaced because the programming was system end.

From the 80s all the way through the early teens digital business telephone systems were ubiquitous in office environments.

With the worldwide coverage of the internet, eventually someone decided that there was no reason calls couldn’t go over it and they named it VOIP – Voice Over Internet Protocol.

VOIP Takes Over

RCI went kicking and screaming into the VOIP age. Sometimes literally with the screaming part.

The calls were lower quality. They were more likely to be dropped. They were less secure.

But the world kept changing. The internet kept growing. And luckily as more people adopted to VOIP the quality did improve. Is it the same level of security and quality as digital business telephone systems? No. But it’s more acceptable now.

Besides, there’s not much of a choice.

Until recently, we sold one of the only digital telephone systems still available on the market through ESI. Then ESI stopped making it.

Now VOIP is the only game in town. Your only choices are on premise vs cloud and what brand and provider to pick.

But what if you want a digital business telephone system and you’re not willing to compromise?

You prefer the security and the quality of a digital system.

Well, you still have options.

Digital Business Telephone System Options

Because digital telephone systems were around for so long, it’s not as if they’ve all just disappeared.

RCI still services our legacy Toshiba and ESI equipment. Both of those systems were pretty high tech and only stopped being manufactured in the last 6 years and 6 months respectively.

If you have a Toshiba or ESI digital business telephone system, we are happy to maintain it.

On the other hand, what if you don’t currently have a working system and want a digital business telephone system?

You can still get one.

There’s a decent market out there for used equipment. RCI has enough inventory to take on new digital customers and still have replacements in stock.

You can’t get a new digital business telephone system anymore because they don’t really  make new equipment that way.

But you can get one that works like new. And companies like RCI will give our refurbished equipment the same warranty as new equipment. With a maintenance contract, there’s no risk.

But the best deal for a digital business telephone system is a rental. When you rent the equipment, you have little upfront cost and maintenance is included. It’s your best value.

In summary, if you like digital business telephone systems, there’s no rush to change. There are benefits to digital and there are benefits to VOIP. A good business technology company will help you make the best decision for you. But in the long term? I imagine in the next 2 decades digital business phone systems will no longer be an option.



*made up number but probably about right

Posted in Toshiba, Digital Telephone Systems, Telephones.